Remote Control Giants

When Jim Flannigan talks about flying remote-control aircraft, his eyes seem to light up.

Standing in his garage, connected to his Edmond home, Flannigan takes off the cockpit portion of his “flying giant,” a gasoline powered, several-feet-long wooden RC airplane that he has flown at events both locally and nationally.

In fact, on one of those recent, rare winter days when the air was nearly warm and the skies were cerulean, Flannigan took out his Russian-styled Yak 54 model to an airstrip near Lake Hefner. He attracted quite a crowd, all of whom enjoyed watching the airplane soar through the air, do stunts and even hover, much like a helicopter.

Flannigan, 41, and a longtime Edmond resident, said while he was six years old when he first made rubber-band powered balsa wood planes, he didn’t get his first radio controlled airplane kit until he was fourteen.

“I rode my bike to the hobby store and picked it up,” he said of that first plane. “I rode home, holding the kit under my arm. I got in trouble for that.”

Flannigan said no one in his family was into airplanes and they weren’t sure where the interest in “aeromodeling” came from. While his interest waned somewhat after getting married in 1992, he was back into the hobby with gusto by 2001.

This, he said, was due to major improvements to the overall quality of the model aircraft that was being developed.

Flannigan is associated with the Flying Giants, a California-based aeromodeling club. He has been with the club since its beginnings in January 2006.“With Flying Giants we have guys all over the world,” he said.

The man who started Flying Giants and is Costa Mesa, California resident, Max Duncan. A modeling hobbyist for many years, Duncan told the Edmond Outlook that this “cool community” of online RC buffs could share videos and images, discuss the hobby and plan meet-ups around the country.

“Since starting the site in 2006, the (modeling) community has exploded,” Duncan said.

And for those wanting to find out more, Duncan encourages them to go to the site. “ is a great place to make friends and learn more,” he said. “I would encourage anyone to jump into the hobby.”

Back in Flannigan’s garage, he points to his plane and says, “This is about the largest one you can get without spending ridiculous amounts of money.”

To put together and operate such a plane, Flannigan said a hobbyist should be prepared to spend $7,000.

But, most models aren’t nearly that expensive, he said. For those wanting to see if this hobby is for them, Flannigan recommends some of the modestly priced kits that cost between $100 and $400.

Folks wanting to learn how to fly will need to go to their local hobby shop, like Mike’s Models in Oklahoma City, or talk to hobbyists like Flannigan.

All in all, Flannigan said flying remote-controlled planes is a blast. “It’s a good place to meet people,” he added.

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